(CN) – Speculation as to whether Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey will have a challenger when she seeks re-election grew on Thursday after San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced he would resign, according to media reports.
A campaign to have Gascón run for the top prosecutor’s job in Los Angeles began in earnest last month, led by the non-profit Smart Justice California. The group’s director, Anne Irwin, called Gascón a leader in the “movement to end mass incarceration without compromising safety.”
Gascón, 65, announced news of his resignation Thursday afternoon before sending a formal letter to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, according to NBC Bay Area news.
Gascón has until December to file his intention to run for office in Los Angeles. He will be leaving his office in San Francisco on Oct. 18, just a few short weeks before voters decide on his successor. His chief of staff Cristine Soto DeBerry will serve as interim DA. An email and phone call to Gascón’s office for comment were not immediately answered Thursday.
Lacey has been criticized by civil justice groups for being too slow to reform the LA office. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union said Lacey’s office has only secured death penalty convictions against people of color since taking office in 2012.
Lacey’s office has secured 22 death penalty convictions since she took office six years ago. All involved people of color, including 13 Latino defendants, 8 black defendants and one Asian defendant, according to the ACLU report.
Lacey has also faced recent scrutiny for not bringing charges against Democratic donor and LGTBQ activist Ed Buck sooner. He was charged last month with running a drug house where police allege he preyed on vulnerable gay men who overdosed after being injected with methamphetamine.
The family of Gemmel Moore, who overdosed at Bucks’ West Hollywood home in 2017, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County and Lacey. In a joint press conference with federal prosecutors last month, Lacey said her office followed all leads brought to them and other times they met up with uncooperative witnesses.
In a press conference last month, Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon said, “Jackie Lacey, she dragged her feet.”
Gascón has faced criticism from San Francisco police, blaming him for an increase in crime.
Union president Tony Montoya with the San Francisco Police Officers Association in a statement said, “We are praying for the residents of Los Angeles” claiming Gascon was responsible for an increase in crime and creating “open air drug markets” in neighborhoods throughout the city.
“We are happy he will be leaving San Francisco but feel horrible that he is taking his record of failure to an even larger county where he can cause even more harm to public safety,” Montoya said. “Good riddance.”
Gascón was the first Latino to serve as San Francisco District Attorney.